The jury at Venice can be notoriously difficult to second-guess: this year, however, they got it right. The Golden Lion was awarded to not just the best film at the Venice Festival, but the year’s best film outright, not to mention the one with the drollest title.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, by the Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson (Songs from the Second Floor), is made up of 39 separate but interconnected sketches, some soaringly comic and others heartbreakingly sad. Many of them centre on two practical joke salesmen, Sam and Jonathan, who slope around Gothenburg, trying to shift vampire fangs and laughing bags without much luck – but in others they’re nowhere to be seen, or are hovering in the background while some other Nordic oddness unfolds around them. The film’s style and tone are next-to-impossible to describe – imagine Jacques Tati stuck in Ingmar Bergman’s spare room, and you’re in the right area – and each scene consists of a single, meticulously composed shot.

Robbie Collin
The Daily Telegraph


Please note that the festival is for over 18s only